Guest: Julia Boorstin, Pat Buchanan, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Tom DeFrank, Maria Teresa Kumar, Chris Cillizza, Jeff Flake, Robert Andrews
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: ... at the White House. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Miller time. OK, the party‘s on. This Thursday at 6:00 o‘clock, we‘ve got a beer party, or as they say in Massachusetts, beer “pah-ty,” scheduled for the White House back lawn. Sitting there at the picnic table will be the president of the United States—Budweiser for him—Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard—give the man a Beck‘s—and Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police. He prefers Blue Moon, an upstate microbrewery product.
Personally, I think this pseudo-event belongs right up there with that stage-crafted trip to the woodshed that Ronald Reagan‘s ballyhoo (ph) boys put his budget director through for his loose lips about the coming avalanche of Reagan deficits.
But some Republicans want to add to this street theater with a highfalutin‘ -- catch this—congressional resolution, filled with seven “whereas” clauses, that is calls upon the president to show contrition for saying the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” in arresting the professor.
Well, Republican congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan wants the U.S. House of Representatives to actually meet and vote on his apology resolution. We‘ve got the congressman, Congressman McCotter of Michigan, coming right here to talk about it and to tell us what he hopes to achieve.
Plus, Sarah Palin has got a new bag, running around the country, attacking the press, attacking—well, acting like Dick Nixon after he lost that California governor‘s race back in ‘62. That‘s when he said this to the press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD M. NIXON ®, CALIFORNIA: As I leave you, I want you to know just think how much you‘re going to be missing. You won‘t have Nixon to kick around anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Nixon went on to campaign for Republican candidates in 1966 before launching his own successful presidential campaign. The big question: Can Palin ape the Nixon playbook for 2012?
And the House of Representatives votes unanimously last night to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood. That may not sound like big news, except for the fact that the resolution included a line affirming that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii—in other words, the USA. Now that every voting congressional Republican is on record—they all voted for it—who voted, saying Obama is one of us, an American, will they finally stand up to the “birthers,” those right-wing full-mooners who still think the president‘s an illegal alien?
Plus, as the Republicans one after another declare their opposition to putting Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, are they lining themselves up for the gallows with Hispanic voters who will not forget this day? That‘s in the “Politics Fix.”
And, well, former senator Larry Craig, just like any other ex-senator, is now, we‘re told, in the consulting business. He‘s going to consult in Washington and in his native Idaho on energy issues. Who says the Republicans can‘t live and let live? We‘ll tell you about his new job in the HARDBALL “Sideshow” tonight.
We begin with the call for a formal act of Congress to tell President Obama to apologize to the Cambridge police. U.S. congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, a Republican, is the member who introduced the bill. Mr. McCotter, this bill had to go to a—well, it had to go to a legislative counsel to get drafted, and it‘s got seven “whereas” clauses in it. It‘s quite a formal document. It ends with a call upon the president to retract his initial public remarks and apologize to the Cambridge police.
Why do you think it‘s necessary to go to all this, even though we‘ve got this beer party set up for Thursday night?
REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER ®, MICHIGAN: Well, one, I think you overestimate the time it took me in my garage to write it and to get it to the legal counsel to slap the title of House resolution on it, which not take very little—it took very little time, certainly a lot less time than this administration has spent on this issue over the past several days.
I think it‘s very important that the principle remain in place. As the president announced himself, he had a friend involved who he was biased to. He didn‘t have a complete grasp of the facts. And nevertheless, he prejudged a private citizen, Officer Crowley‘s, actions as being inappropriate. Then he reaffirmed it two days later.
I don‘t think the president should have that type of power do that. I think it‘s unfair to the private citizen.
MATTHEWS: What would you like to see the Congress do? You‘ve introduced the resolution. You‘ve got a couple co-sponsors. What steps do you want your fellow members of Congress to follow now, having done so?
MCCOTTER: Well, I think the key thing is not what I want to see...
MATTHEWS: No, what do you want Congress to do? You‘ve introduced a resolution into the Congress.
MCCOTTER: I‘s aware of what I‘ve done, yes.
MATTHEWS: It‘s gone to committee. It‘s gone to committee. It‘s been referred to committee. What steps do you want the Congress now to take?
MCCOTTER: Well, I hope they would take it up, but the question is whether the president will take it upon himself to know that prejudging him from a biased bases with incomplete facts was wrong. It‘s not a precedent that should be set by the most powerful person in the world, and have him admit that he was hasty in his judgment and retract his statement, and then move on from there. But if not, I would hope that...
MATTHEWS: You could have done that in a press release.
MCCOTTER: ... we would reaffirm this principle—no, I think that it‘s important.
MATTHEWS: You could have done that in a press release or a floor—you want—I‘m asking you seriously, Congressman. Do you want the Congress to actually take this up in committee, mark it up, report it out and vote on it on the floor? Is that what you want?
MCCOTTER: Well, I would think what you‘re asking, then, is, Should the most powerful person in the world be protected by individuals like yourself, who think that his actions were absolutely appropriate and good precedent, or should the Congress...
MATTHEWS: Well, who said that?
MCCOTTER: ... ask—or should the—well, I‘m waiting for that to see whether you agree with my proposition or not.
MATTHEWS: No. If you ever watch this show...
MCCOTTER: But as a separate...
MATTHEWS: ... you know what I think. And if you don‘t watch it, you don‘t know what I think. But let me ask you this. Do you think the Congress of the United States...
MCCOTTER: As separate, equal branch of government...
MATTHEWS: ... should do what you want it to do...
MCCOTTER: Yes. As a separate...
MATTHEWS: ... to pass, to go to committee...
MATTHEWS: ... have hearings...
MATTHEWS: ... have a markup...
MATTHEWS: ... report out this resolution...
MATTHEWS: ... and vote on it by the whole house?
MCCOTTER: Yes. As a separate, equal branch of government, we have to be a check upon the overuse of the power of the president. And the president, the most powerful person in the world, should not have put Officer Crowley in this situation after admitting bias, a lack of facts, and prejudging this incident. So I think that as a congressional check and balance on the executive branch, I think it‘s necessary if the president doesn‘t do it himself.
MATTHEWS: What meaning does an apology have if it‘s forced upon a president or he‘s told to do it? Does it have real meaning?
MCCOTTER: I think it‘s important that the principle remain and that the precedent not be set. I think that‘s what‘s at stake here. Now, what the president feels about it or not is up to him. The president has in the past, in the Daschle incident, admitted when he‘s made mistakes. I would simply say that he should be able to make that type of admission now and retract the statement so that it doesn‘t affect negatively on the rights in any potential legal or professional proceeding that Sergeant Crowley may face.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about your resolution. What‘s the precedent for Congress asking the president to apologize for something?
MCCOTTER: Any sense of Congress in a resolution can focus on what we want it to focus on as an expression of Congress. Obviously, it‘d be non-binding. We can‘t force the president to do it. But it would give a sense that the Congress itself believes that the principle is important enough to protect and that a precedent shouldn‘t be set.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at what the president said last week, Congressman. Then let‘s look at what he said late Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.
I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically, and I could have calibrated those words differently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it seems like the president has gotten to the point of sitting down with this police officer, this sergeant, the official, with the man who feels himself a victim here, the professor from Harvard, and they‘re all getting together Thursday afternoon for this beer party, or whatever it‘s going to be called, a happy hour. They got a picnic table laid out for this.
This theater is not enough for you. You want more theater, apparently. Did you know that they were going to go to this extent before you offered your resolution?
MCCOTTER: No. First of all, it‘s not about the theater or the picnic. It‘s about the principle that the president acted upon a bias. He acted without complete knowledge of the facts. And he has consistently said that he still believes the officer, in a pre-judicial decision, has acted improperly. That has not changed throughout the course of this, and we don‘t know if it‘ll change by Thursday or not. That is the crux of the matter, not how, in whatever styling, one says something, but the substance of the decision by the president that the officer had acted improperly. That is the crux of the matter.
MATTHEWS: But in saying, as the president did, that both gentlemen probably overreacted, that‘s not enough?
MCCOTTER: He didn‘t say both gentlemen had overreacted. What he said is that he still believed the officer had overreacted and that now he‘s expanded...
MATTHEWS: By making the arrest. By making the arrest.
MCCOTTER: Yes, that he still believes the officer had overreacted, which is a reaffirmation of his original statement that he had acted “stupidly.” He had also expanded this now—and I‘m trying to be fair to Professor Gates—to say he that now believes Professor Gates might have acted improperly, probably overreacted, as well.
The bottom line is this determination should be made at the local level by the appropriate authorities with due process, and then the president can weigh in. The president can always weigh in ahead of time with a general discussion of any issue at large...
MCCOTTER: ... but to place culpability on one party or the other I think is inappropriate and...
MATTHEWS: Well, here he is...
MCCOTTER: ... not a precedent that should be set.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s be fair. Let‘s listen to what the president said Friday, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted, as well. My sense is you‘ve got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So the here‘s the president in reflection saying he thinks both gentlemen probably overreacted. He‘s saying they‘re both good people. He made a phone call to the sergeant. He made a phone call to Professor Gates. And you still want the United States House of Representatives to go to committee, go to reporting a bill out, passing a resolution demanding that he do this other thing. Are you sticking to your guns on this, Congressman?
MCCOTTER: You‘ve missed the fundamental...
MATTHEWS: Do you really want the Congress to do all this?
MCCOTTER: To defend the rights of a private citizen from presidential overreach, absolutely. If you listen very carefully to what the president said, he continues to say that Officer Crowley acted inappropriately. Officer Crowley continues to say that he did not. And so he should be given his fair and due process by the appropriate local authorities. And while no one may be speaking up for him or for anyone else this may happen to, if this precedent allows to be set, I still believe that it‘s for members of Congress to assert that there are checks and balances within this system to protect private individuals.
MATTHEWS: So you want a vote by the House.
MCCOTTER: If the president doesn‘t voluntarily come forward, recognize his mistake. And again, Chris, the president is a lawyer. He understands that there are legal ramifications to this, as well as professional ramifications to the individuals involved, and to further inject himself into this strikes me as exactly the opposite. What I‘m trying to give him is honest advice is to admit a mistake, retract, and wait to see what happens at the local level, the appropriate authorities and due process.
MATTHEWS: OK. Have you got any word fro the leadership about when they‘re going to take up your resolution, if they are going to take it? What committee has got it?
MCCOTTER: I‘m not sure which committee it was referred to at the present time, but I don‘t expect it to be passed by the Congress. I expect it to stand as a testament to the principle, if this doesn‘t happen and the precedent stands. At the end of the day, the principle has to be put forward if it is to even—if we can seen start to assert protecting it.
MATTHEWS: Should people write their congressmen and ask them to vote on this?
MCCOTTER: I think people should make their own determination, asking whether or not they thought that this precedent should stand or whether the principle should be (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. I‘m sure you‘ve got a copy of this on your Web site, sir. Is that how people can get a look at it?
MATTHEWS: OK. Great. Thank you, U.S. congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan.
MCCOTTER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: No one is sure what Sarah Palin‘s next move will be, but we—well, she might consider doing what Richard Nixon did in the ‘60s—I think she‘s doing it—when he campaigned around the country for Republicans before his successful run for president in ‘68. By the way, Nixon bashed the press on his way to doing so. Is that what Sarah Palin‘s doing? Could Palin find success the same way?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: I leave you gentlemen now. And you will now write it. You will interpret it. That‘s your right. But as I leave you, I want you to know—just think how much you‘re going to be missing. You won‘t have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Not really. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Richard Nixon the morning after he lost the California governor‘s race back in 1962. He lost to the Pat Brown who later lost to Ronald Reagan. As we all know, that was not Richard Nixon‘s last press conference. In fact, 10 years later—or actually—it wasn‘t 10 years later, it was 6 years later—he was elected president in a landslide. Could Sarah Palin use the playbook to chart her own political comeback?
Pat Buchanan‘s an MSNBC political analyst and Tom DeFrank covers politics for “The New York Daily News.” I got the idea for this having watched it—and Pat, you and I have talked a lot about the Nixon comeback from that cryogenic state he was in at Mudge, Rose, Guthrie (ph) in New York. He basically went out, as Mary McGrory said, exit snarling. She didn‘t like him much. He left attacking the press, and yet within a couple months, he was back. He sat out the ‘64 race. He red-shirted himself. He didn‘t think that was his year. He came back in ‘66. And he said to you, First ‘66.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I joined up in ‘65, actually. And what he told me—he said, listen, Pat, if I had to be a lawyer the rest of my life, I‘d be mentally dead in two years and physically dead in four. And he and I talked for hours and hours every day.
Incidentally, the ‘68 win was no landslide. It was Humphrey. We won by 500,000 votes. It was a good electoral victory. But we went out—
Nixon went out, and what we did is, we had a five-week campaign. He got a plane. He had to pay for it himself or raise money for it. We hit 80 congressional districts, 35 states. Nixon predicted all year long, We‘re going to win 40 House seats, and people were laughing at him and mocking him.
At one point, he had doubt about it when Johnson was out in Manila because I ran into his room out in Oregon. Johnson‘s coming back, he‘s going to campaign all over the country. And it really shook him up and he was telling me, We might just win 12. But sure enough, 47 House seats that night. We were in a hotel, and he was calling all these guys who‘d campaigned and were calling him.
MATTHEWS: And what did Johnson‘s biggest mistake was, he accused him of being a chronic campaigner.
BUCHANAN: Johnson went into a press conference, was asked about Nixon‘s—the Manila questions that I had helped draft with Nixon. We got him in “The New York Times,” thanks to Safire. And Johnson gets up and for five minutes—This chronic campaigner...
BUCHANAN: ... goes on and on and on. And Nixon got television time and he went head to head with the president. And the night before the election, or just before it, he took a half hour of time from the national committee, paid for, and he got up there and gave this really responsible response, and he vaulted himself into the number one candidate for the nomination.
MATTHEWS: OK. She‘s no idiot. This woman—I think the governor—ex-governor of Alaska is a smart politician. I don‘t know how deep she is on the issues, but she seems to understand the crowd out there. Tom DeFrank, can she exploit it? Can she do what Nixon did, play against the press, attack the media, attack Hollywood, attack government, and come back as sort of the angry, obviously very attractive candidate, glittery, exciting, but negative.
TOM DEFRANK, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: Well, she will do that, Chris. She‘s a walking culture war, as somebody else observed over the weekend, and I think she‘ll do all the...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Will she take the country back block by block...
MATTHEWS: ... as Pat once promised to do?
DEFRANK: I don‘t think she will, but she‘s going to—obviously, after she cashes in and makes zillions of dollars on the speaking circuit, she‘s going to be campaigning for Republican members of Congress and Republican senatorial aspirants, and she will build up a lot of chips. But I have to say this—and I spent 20 minutes privately with her on the campaign trail. It was all off the record, so I...
MATTHEWS: I saw your column.
DEFRANK: Well, the bottom line...
MATTHEWS: By the way, what‘s off the record mean, if you can write a whole column about it?
DEFRANK: Well, I couldn‘t say anything that she said.
MATTHEWS: I know, no quotes. I know. I‘m just teasing you.
DEFRANK: I couldn‘t what any—I couldn‘t say what she said.
MATTHEWS: You caught the tenor of her remarks.
DEFRANK: My sense of it was, except for energy policy, there‘s a lot she doesn‘t know.
She reminds me of one of these politicians who don‘t know what they don‘t know. And that is the—that‘s the test for her. Yes, she catches the crowd. Yes, she—she gets it. She connects with people. But I...
MATTHEWS: Well, when does it tag her that she‘s not—I—first of all, we can‘t put it part—past reasonability that she will hire a couple people. She will be getting some tutorials.
MATTHEWS: She will catch up on some of the issues. She has got plenty of time now to do it now.
BUCHANAN: There‘s a difference.
DEFRANK: Right. She does. But, I mean, the—the bottom line is, can she—does she—does she understand what she doesn‘t understand?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I understand.
BUCHANAN: Here‘s the difference.
MATTHEWS: Is she curious enough to learn?
BUCHANAN: Here‘s the difference, Chris.
DEFRANK: I don‘t know if she‘s intellectually curious...
BUCHANAN: Chris, there‘s—the difference is this, that, as of 1966, everybody in the Republican Party—the Republican Party loved Nixon, said, he can‘t win. Everybody knew he was qualified, he was up to the job. He had been on the national scenes since 1946, nailed Hiss in ‘48.
But let me dissent on one issue.
MATTHEWS: By the way, Hiss is still guilty. And the latest evidence is, he‘s definitely guilty, which I love, by the way.
BUCHANAN: But here is the difference. We didn‘t attack the press.
We didn‘t attack the press at all out there.
MATTHEWS: I‘m talking about that you won‘t have Nixon to kick around anymore. That‘s the famous...
BUCHANAN: Well, that was 1962. But Nixon...
MATTHEWS: ... was the famous salvo.
BUCHANAN: Nixon—let me say this. People forget Nixon got a good press in ‘66, a great press during the primaries in ‘68 up to Oregon, and in the—in the general election, we were hammered a lot. But we didn‘t go after the national press and the networks until November of ‘69, when we were being pounded...
BUCHANAN: ... and people didn‘t know what to do.
MATTHEWS: Based upon that experience, can she ride the wave of anti-media anger?
BUCHANAN: Well, there‘s a new—it‘s a new world...
MATTHEWS: Like Agnew did.
BUCHANAN: Well, listen, Agnew went after the media, again, in 1969, after they came after Nixon, when he said, I want—trying to rally the country behind him. They piled on.
But let me say this. There‘s—there‘s a new world we‘re in. And the theme is, when you go after Hollywood and you go after the media, they‘re our most powerful—or the conservatives‘...
BUCHANAN: ... most powerful adversaries. They‘re our opponents, as much as the—Nancy Pelosi is. Nobody knows who Harry Reid is. They know who those network guys are.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at...
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at Sarah Palin as she takes on the press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN ®, ALASKA: And...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PALIN: ... first, some straight talk for some—just some—in the media.
You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy.
Democracy depends on you. And that is why—that‘s why our troops are willing to die for you. So, how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do you think that‘s practiced, that style of hers, Tom? It‘s hard to say whether it‘s practiced or it‘s natural. But that thing about going after New York media, Washington government, and L.A. Hollywood, it‘s brilliant. It‘s a geographic attack on the left coast, the East Coast, and gives her the middle.
DEFRANK: Well, I just think it‘s not...
MATTHEWS: Does it work?
DEFRANK: I don‘t think it‘s going to work.
Time will tell. I mean, the bottom line is, time will tell whether it works. I—I just think she‘s trying the Nixon playbook, but I don‘t think she‘s Richard Nixon. As Pat said, Nixon was a member of Congress. He was a senator. He was a vice president. She was governor...
DEFRANK: ... for two-and-a-half years, and she walked away for the last 18 months.
MATTHEWS: Has anybody ever gotten really far in national politics without some love of reading, of knowledge?
I mean, I think Stevenson was way overestimated I.Q. wise.
MATTHEWS: I think Kennedy was way underestimated. I think Reagan was way underestimated.
But all of them read books. They read newspapers. They read magazines. They were thoughtful people that went to bed at night with books in their hands. They were thinking all the time.
MATTHEWS: Can you get ahead with just pure style and pizzazz in politics?
BUCHANAN: George—George W. Bush.
MATTHEWS: You said it, buddy.
BUCHANAN: No, I think, when he got in there, he said, “I read—I read...”
MATTHEWS: You said it. I didn‘t do it.
BUCHANAN: “I read three Shakespeares this summer.”
MATTHEWS: OK. I know. I thought that was for shop dressing.
But do you have to—all right, there‘s exhibit A.
BUCHANAN: No, I was kidding. But he did...
MATTHEWS: Do you have to have some substance or not?
BUCHANAN: He did read. He did do some reading. I think he was reading biographies certainly in the White House. He and Rove had a contest...
BUCHANAN: ... how many hundreds of books they would read.
MATTHEWS: Do you have to be somewhat substantive in this business, Tom DeFrank?
DEFRANK: Yes, I think—I think you have to.
DEFRANK: And I think she has—she has to show an intellectual curiosity that I don‘t think she‘s shown at the moment. And she‘s got time to do that.
MATTHEWS: I think, look, a lot of people...
DEFRANK: But it‘s not there at the moment.
MATTHEWS: ... have brought themselves up in our business.
MATTHEWS: I mean, I have watched Bobby Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller.
You get people around you who are smart—I did it in school.
MATTHEWS: Start hanging around with smart people. It‘s amazing what it does for you, like...
BUCHANAN: I think, if Sarah—if Sarah Palin had been vice president for four years, I think you sit—she‘s obviously extremely bright...
BUCHANAN: ... intelligent, tough, committed, can make decisions. But she doesn‘t have the information base, as Tom says.
BUCHANAN: ... a couple years—I mean, a lot of folks come to Congress like that.
MATTHEWS: You need a magnet for information.
Thank you, Pat Buchanan—like you do, Pat. I see you studying every afternoon.
MATTHEWS: Tom DeFrank, sir, you beat “TIME” to the big story about Dick Cheney.
Sarah Palin‘s farewell address has been good fodder for the late-night comics. We‘re going to have that when we come back. We have got the best jokes from Letterman, Stewart, Colbert, all coming up next in the “Sideshow,” all about Sarah Palin.
You‘re watching it, HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Time for the “Sideshow.”
Talk about a symbiotic relationship. Sarah Palin was, more or less, brought to live by “Saturday Night Live”‘s Tina Fey. We know that. She was slain by Katie Couric. She rose to the highest form of performance art, national victim, by David Letterman.
Now, on her way out of the governor‘s door, and head first into the road show, she won homages last night from the folks who made her, the media on the East Coast. All this was last night.
We start with Letterman reacting, first of all, to the governor‘s farewell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: It was a moving—a moving day for Sarah Palin. She went out onto her porch and waved goodbye to Russia.
LETTERMAN: Sarah Palin took a swipe at certain people in the media.
LETTERMAN: Gosh, I wonder who she had in mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
GOV. SARAH PALIN ®, ALASKA: And one other thing for the media: Our new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone.
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: He has a family, does he?
STEWART: I want to know. Orthodontic records, yearbook rumors, schoolyard rumors. I will break them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE COLBERT REPORT”)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: I was so moved by her farewell speech...
COLBERT: ... that I want to say goodbye to her in the same way I imagine she writes her own speeches.
COLBERT: Cherished freedoms..
COLBERT: ... is that...
COLBERT: ... some may say, and, to those some, gas pipelines...
COLBERT: ... to those brave soldiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as he said, Colbert, stringing together buzz phrases may be enough for the political circuit, but she better not try it before the paying audiences. Trade associations that fork over big money for speeches from people like her want a big speech. They want their starring attractions to say something. That‘s just a thought, a bit of advice for her.
Next up: Guess who has got a big gig, a new one? Larry Craig, the newly retired senator from Idaho, famous for his arrest in that 2007 Minneapolis men‘s room incident, has just opened a new energy consulting firm, with offices in Idaho and Washington. What a great country this is, by the way.
It turns out this is a freer, more forgiving, more understanding country than people who vote like Larry Craig want it to be.
And, finally, the Politico‘s Roger Simon, a good friend of this show, has come up with a fun list of things that the White House staff, the White House staff, is not allowed to say to the president.
Here‘s a few of them.
First up, any reference to the Gates saga, saying, “I don‘t know all the facts, but the police acted stupidly is like saying, I don‘t know if there‘s any weapons of mass destruction, but let‘s invade Iraq anyway.”
Another unspeakable: “You want a cigarette?”
Another thing you can‘t say to the president if you work for him—I think it has to do with his press conferences—“One reason we can‘t put the questions on the Teleprompter is because we aren‘t supposed to know the questions in advance.”
Well, don‘t we all agree that these press conferences he‘s been holding are downright deadly? They‘re like midnight in a cemetery. They‘re downright sepulchral. I say, bring back the hand-waving. I pine for the sound of somebody yelling out, “Mr. President!”
Now, that‘s a press conference.
Time for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Today, the Judiciary Committee in the Senate easily approved Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court by a vote of 13-6. But here is the more telling number. How many Republicans on that committee voted for Sotomayor? One, out of seven. Uno. Ein. Un.
The lone yes vote came from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Just one Republican votes for the country‘s first Hispanic Supreme Court nominee—tonight‘s “Big Number.”
We‘re going to talk about that later in the “Politics Fix.” What does that mean to Republicans running for reelection in states that have lots of Hispanic voters? Will they remember? What do you think?
Up next: Congress votes unanimously for a bill celebrating Hawaiian statehood, a bill that also says Barack Obama was born in the USA. So, now will that quiet the House Republicans by putting them on record saying, Obama is in fact one of us; he is an American? What will they say to those right-wing birthers out there who still don‘t believe the president was born here? Are they going to stick up for him now?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
The Dow and the S&P finished slightly lower on the day, but the Nasdaq bounces back to finish in positive territory. The Dow Jones industrials lost 11 points, the S&P 500 down about 2.5 points, and the Nasdaq added over seven points.
Stocks struggled for much of the day on weak consumer confidence readings and falling oil prices. Consumer confidence fell for the second straight month in June. Economists were expecting the gauge to hold steady.
Oil prices fell more than 1.5 percent today, to finish around $67 a barrel. Analysts say optimism about a speedy turnaround in global demand appears to be waning.
And encouraging reading from the housing sector balanced out some of the bad news and gave stocks a lift late in the day—home prices posting their first month-over-month increase in nearly three years.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Last night, as I said, the House passed a resolution honoring Hawaii‘s 50th anniversary as a part of the United States. And the text of the resolution included this line—quote—“Whereas the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961”—close quote.
Well, considering the nonsense that birthers and their allies on Capitol Hill have been spewing, you might have thought that there would be opposition to that line. Well, guess what? Didn‘t happen. The bill passed 378 -- 378 members of Congress to zero.
So, what happened to the members of Congress who had been fanning the flames to delegitimize the president? Will they put it—put to rest this insanity?
Well, New Jersey Democratic Congressman Rob Andrews and Arizona Republican Congressman Jeff Flake were part of the co-sponsorship of this. In fact, they were leading co-sponsors.
Gentlemen, I want you to watch something that‘s kind of amazing. This is a Huffington Post blogger by the—a young guy named Mike Stark. He went around the Hill and interviewed your colleagues.
MATTHEWS: And here is what they said on the issue of whether our president is in fact one of us, a fellow American.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE STARK, BLOGGER, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”: What do you believe personally?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to see the documents.
STARK: So, you‘re kind of afraid of the lunatic fringe base?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it‘s certainly being looked at.
STARK: What do you personally believe, though? I mean, do you think there‘s a question here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there are questions. We will have to see.
STARK: You do believe there are questions? That‘s good enough.
Thanks very much.
We‘re on the Hill asking Republicans if they believe Barack Obama was born in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
STARK: It doesn‘t matter to you?
But you swore an oath to uphold the Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s a question he needs to answer, not me.
STARK: You can tell me what you think. You can tell me what you think. Do you think he was?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he was my U.S. senator. So, he said he was, so I believe he was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman Andrews, you know, when you—they used to say, reporters—when I have had arguments with them, they always say, when—when you get somebody into the grand jury, you get somebody to testify in court, when it‘s on the record, they have a different view than when they‘re just talking.
It sounds like, when your Republican colleagues were just talking, they were able to play the game of, well, maybe he‘s not really one of us, he‘s not really an American. But, when you force them to vote for history, to talk to posterity, every one of them who voted, all of them, in fact, went out there and said, yes, of course, he‘s an American.
So, what‘s the difference? What‘s the distinction here between on the record, when it counts, and B.S.ing it with your whack job far-right constituents?
REP. ROBERT ANDREWS (D), NEW JERSEY: Geez, I hope it‘s accountability, Chris. And, as you said, people had to actually cast a vote as to whether they buy any of this nonsense.
And I‘m—look, I‘m glad that my Republican colleagues did the right thing and voted yes. I hope what they will do is now stand up at these town meetings and tell people that—that fanning the flames of this hatred is just wrong. There are serious policy differences we should debate. But carrying on this kind of misconception is just wrong for the country.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Flake, thank you for joining us. You‘re a Republican from Arizona.
You voted—you co-sponsored this measure honoring Hawaii as our 50th state. Here is the resolution, 1503. It would require—well, to require the campaign committee—well, this is something else. This is the other guys who are pushing this. They want to put a birth certificate out there.
How do—how do they reconcile that with voting to say that this president clearly is one of us?
REP. JEFF FLAKE ®, ARIZONA: I—I don‘t know. I suppose that other effort will go away pretty quietly now. And I hope it does. And I hope that this lays to rest any—any controversy that‘s out there. This this shouldn‘t have been a controversy at all.
MATTHEWS: What‘s in the water out there?
FLAKE: Well, I don‘t know.
I think you—you saw it some on the left after the—the—the Bush/Gore race back in 2000, some who called Bush the illegitimate president for quite a while after that.
FLAKE: And—and you‘re seeing it here, not exclusively, but mostly on the right.
And it‘s unfortunate. It just kind of cheapens the debate.
ANDREWS: Hey, Chris—
MATTHEWS: Congressman Andrews, your thoughts?
ANDREWS: I respect Jeff very much. I think that‘s a ridiculous comparison. In the Bush/Gore fight there was a legitimate legal fight over whether ballots should have been counted or not. There is absolutely no doubt about Barack Obama‘s birth certificate. There‘s no dispute about this, which is why all you guys voted for it last night.
FLAKE: No, I completely agree with that.
MATTHEWS: Just to get some more information—
ANDREWS: Some of us never questioned it.
MATTHEWS: Here are some people who have. Here are the seven colleagues—these are Republican members of Congress who sponsored that birther bill, who voted also to say that Hawaii is, in fact, a state and President Obama is, in fact, someone who was born in it: Bill Posey, Marcia Blackburn, Jon Culberson, Ted Poe, Dan Burton—no surprise there—Bob Goodlatte, and Randy Neugebauer.
What do you make of the fact that there‘s a conflict there, Mr. Edwards, between people who, when they were forced to vote on the record, said, yes, he‘s a citizen. But when this play this game by sponsoring a resolution which says you have to show your birth certificate—by the way, the secretary of health in Hawaii again yesterday said the birth certificate is on file. What more information people want I don‘t know. Go ahead.
ANDREWS: I think it‘s just absurd that people are fanning this misconception. And then when they have to call the shots and vote, they vote the right way. These guys ought to knock this off. Let‘s talk about jobs and health care and things that matter to the people of the country.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Flake?
FLAKE: Well, I agree. It‘s time to lay it to rest and go on. Some of us, like I said, never had that question at all. It‘s unfortunate that some did. But now I think it is laid to rest, and we can address health care and the other issues. I‘m glad that we passed this resolution. I hope we can go ahead.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the Republican leadership, people like John Boehner, who are level-headed, and Mitch McConnell, who is level-headed, I think—I‘m sure they are—would be better off just putting this aside and saying, our party doesn‘t really stand for this de-Americanization effort.
FLAKE: Right. And I think they have. There‘s no encouragement that‘s come from the Republican leadership to fan these flames.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s no discouragement of the whack jobs either.
FLAKE: Well, I can only say—
MATTHEWS: They haven‘t exactly been excommunicated from the fold. I mean, they‘re showing up at meetings. Mike Castle had a meeting the other day—I got to tell you—where this woman stood up—did you see it? It was wild. And she—
ANDREWS: She berated him.
MATTHEWS: She berated and she was yelling and—
ANDREWS: And to Mike‘s credit, Mike‘s credit, he just said there was really nothing to it. But this is going on. And I think people have to stand up, Republicans and Democrats, and say, look, stop lying about the president, to these people who are doing this. Let‘s have a legitimate disagreement over what he stands for. I‘m for what he stands for. But stop lying about the president.
I think both Republicans and Democrats need to say that to these people.
MATTHEWS: I think Lou Dobbs should join, by the way, in that. He has yet to make a clear statement. He‘s said the president is one of us, but he continues to encourage this rush to try to check everybody‘s papers, including the president. I don‘t think the president should have to show his papers like he‘s—like he just skipped across the border. Give him a break.
Well, we don‘t have to, I guess. Thank you, Congressman Robert Andrews and thank you Jeff Flake. Up next, Senator Lindsay Graham is the only Republican in the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote for President Obama‘s pick for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. Will Republicans pay a political price with Latina and Latino voters for this because they just voted against the first one? The first one, she‘s the tough one. John F. Kennedy, people like that; people remember where you stood.
The politics fix is coming up. We‘re getting back to more ethnic politics here. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with the politics fix, with the “Washington Post.com‘s” Chris Cillizza. Everybody reads him in the post. And Voto Latino‘s Maria Teresa Kumar. Thank you both for joining us.
A little tribal politics coming up here, lady and gentleman, and I mean it. This Gates thing—I mean, we had the Congressman on. He‘s obviously well-spoken, we can say that. This guy, McCotter from Michigan. You know, Cillizza—do you know what astounds me about this whole thing? This and the whole thing about is the president is American or not—anybody who thinks the map is simple, that New York state is all liberal and Pennsylvania is a little more conservative. The country is blotchy. Every part of the country has some far full mooners in it. States you think are liberal like Michigan have people way over in corners of it, like Bachmann in Minnesota. You think it‘s a Hubert Humphrey state.
Isn‘t that amazing. I want to talk to you about this Crowley, Gates, Obama thing. Is the president sitting down with these two guys and having their happy hour Thursday night—does this end it OK for him or is he still going to pay a price for this politically?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I think it ends it OK, Chris. I think the price he paid is that we‘re still talking about it, you know, five or six days afterwards, which basically means that some of the health care messaging got off track. Yes, I think—
MATTHEWS: There wasn‘t much good to report on that front. Wasn‘t like it was blacked out, you know.
CILLIZZA: Amazingly enough, though, they did exactly what they wanted with that press conference until the very end. And President Obama didn‘t get to be president because he‘s undisciplined. It was a fascinating moment, because they sent the message they wanted to send. This is necessary. It‘s urgent. We need to do it now, whether you agree or don‘t agree with that.
Then at the end, he answers this question and sets off six days. I think what they‘re hoping to do is let‘s bring this to an end. It‘s a beer among friends, that kind of idea. Let‘s move on.
As you point out, Chris, I‘m not sure they want to be necessarily talking about health care at the moment, but it‘s better than this, frankly.
MATTHEWS: I think health care‘s doing OK, as it gets on the back burner. This reminds me; you weren‘t around, Maria Teresa, I don‘t think, based upon your age, my estimate of your age. But this is something that Reagan‘s people did when he had a huge embarrassment back in ‘81, when his budget director admitted to a reporter for the “Atlantic Monthly” that there‘s huge deficits coming.
So they had this moment called the trip to the woodshed. It was completely ridiculous, totally ridiculous, but it worked. I guess maybe they‘re playing from that playbook now, creating an event.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Right, they‘re creating an event. I think also what he has to—I actually disagree a little bit with Chris. I think what happened is that, for the very first time, Obama was not in control of the news cycle. And it spiraled because of the way he answered at the very end.
I think what we do have to be careful with is how he interacts with law enforcement. What we don‘t want—what the Democrats don‘t want the message to be sending to Republicans is that the Obama administration and the Democrats are unfriendly to law enforcement. I think people are really going to be looking at this very critically.
CILLIZZA: Chris, you know that there are very few accidents in politics. It was not an accident that Joe Biden was in Philadelphia with Eric Holder, the attorney general, announcing one billion dollars in economic stimulus funds to the hiring and rehiring of police officers around the country this morning.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think the Democrats want to be in bed with the police, for obvious reasons. As somebody said, if you‘re in trouble, are you going to call 911 and send for the Harvard Faculty Club to come and help you? By the way, when you‘re in difficult saying, even in difficult neighborhoods, you like to have cops around.
Let me ask you this politically, was this a big mistake by him? There was no planning of this.
KUMAR: Yes, that‘s what I‘m saying.
MATTHEWS: Chris, you agree there was no—this was a miscue?
CILLIZZA: Absolutely, 100 percent. Unforced error.
MATTHEWS: No Drama Obama became the dramatic Obama in the way he didn‘t want to be. Do you know, from your reporting, whether people like Axelrod, or anybody else, Valerie Jarrett, anybody in the White House, got to the president afterwards and said, you‘re off the rails on this one, Mr. President? Do you know who got him back on the rails by saying, let‘s all be friends, this Rodney King thing he‘s doing?
CILLIZZA: Chris, I am sure some of his advisers did, though they keep it pretty close. Look, the president is a pretty astute politician. I think what you saw is he waited a few days. He essentially said, it‘s not that big deal; I could have used different words. By Friday, he knew he had to address it. He had to say, look, I regret saying what I did. He understands that if you walk away from this sort of thing, it will just grow and grow and grow, that you‘ve got to pour water on at some point. You can‘t just ignore if there‘s a fire.
MATTHEWS: While you‘re on the fire issue, do you think the Republicans want to put out this birthing issue themselves? Are they going to get to the point, or are they already there, with this vote on Hawaii, saying he is, in fact—every Republican, Chris, who voted last night, said, yes, he‘s a citizen. So when it came to a vote, they had a vote. They chickened out or they got off this crazy thing they were playing to.
Do you think the Republican leadership wants to kill this thing?
MATTHEWS: This birther thing.
CILLIZZA: Chris, 100 percent. Look, they want to talk. They think they have an opening on the economy. They think they have an opening on health care. They don‘t want to talk to an issue that plays to—I have no idea—let‘s say five percent of the Republican base? I really don‘t know. I‘m guessing. But it plays to a very narrow group of people who were never going to vote for Barack Obama anyway.
MATTHEWS: Also it gets to the question whether it‘s not documentation; it‘s pigmentation.
KUMAR: Exactly. Unfortunately, he‘s fueled the fire with this whole Gates and Crowley issue.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to come back and talk about some of these truly could be tribal. That‘s Latina for the Supreme Court, with very few Republicans apparently lining up for her. We‘re going to come back with Maria Teresa Kumar and Chris Cillizza to talk about the fact, we‘re learning, that very few Republicans are going to vote next week for the Supreme Court nominee of the president. We‘ll be right back on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Chris Cillizza and Maria Teresa Kumar. Let me ask you about—with the politics fix. Pure politics; will the Republicans pay the price for voting almost down the line against Sotomayor for Supreme Court?
KUMAR: They will with the Latina population, specifically the Latina vote. They want to hear a Republican party that is reasoned on the reasons why they may not vote for her. It‘s not just because of who she is, but of her ethnicity. What we saw on display during the confirmation hearings was very much the Republican party of the—caught in a time warp—of the 1960s. I kept watching that and saying, you know, Sotomayor feels like she‘s in Princeton all over again. I think that‘s the issue.
All of a sudden, you have swing states—so you have Arizona, Nevada you even have Texas, where those people are definitely vulnerable. And should they choose to run or rerun, in the case of Ensign, we have a problem.
MATTHEWS: Chris, who‘s in trouble in this? McCain hasn‘t spoken. I think he‘s going on to vote for, my hunch. I think Alexander in Tennessee I‘m just hunching it, based on what he said. Very few others beyond the five or six that have already announced so far.
CILLIZZA: I was somewhat surprised with Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, just because they did have this record. They had voted for every Supreme Court nominee prior. I think what this shows, more than anything else, is how partisan things are now in Washington. I know President Obama has built a lot of his reputation on bipartisanship. It seems clear to me, look at economic stimulus, look at cap and trade, look at this vote, you‘re looking at lots of party line votes on big issues that are going to be issues, maybe not Sotomayor, but certainly health care and—
MATTHEWS: Will they pay a price with Hispanic voters out in the west, especially people out West that we mentioned?
CILLIZZA: You know, if you look at 2008, they didn‘t have all that far to go down, to be honest, Chris. They were already losing them badly. They have to find a way back. I‘m not sure voting for Sonia Sotomayor would have been Republicans‘ path back to winning the Hispanic vote. But they‘ve got to start somewhere.
KUMAR: Right, but I think what is sending a message right now, especially after the confirmation hearings, an increase of the rhetoric with immigration policy. The Latino community is looking for a party. It‘s not necessarily Democratic.
MATTHEWS: I think Democrats are going to rub it in their face. In everyone of these states, they‘re going to rub it over and over again. She‘ll look dignified. She‘ll look appropriate. She‘s got the credentials. They‘ll say they voted against her for ethnic reasons. They‘ll nail them on this, I think so, especially out west.
Thank you, Chris Cillizza. Thank you, Maria Teresa Kumar. Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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